I had always thought that the terms "agglutinative" and "agglutination" referred to the typology of the inflection in a language.

But on another question here there seem to be a number of comments and answers where the terms are understood to refer to derivation, word-building.

Which of these two are relevant to the terms in question. Just the first, or a bit of both?

The question is actually about Esperanto, and some of the morphemes could well be analysed as either and/or both inflectional and derivational, since the language is so incredibly regular.

  • In fact, the distinction is not terribly relevant to agglutination, since inflectional affixes normally are on the outside of the word (initial and final), while morphology makes onion rings inside that. Derivation will certainly have more irregularities in form, or vowel harmony, if that occurs (e.g, Turkish), but derivations are always messy and there lotsa inflectional problems, too.
    – jlawler
    Mar 8, 2014 at 14:56
  • This depends on the meaning of "word", which we know is too murky. For languages like Esperanto where some affixes seem a bit like both derivational and inflectional, passive for example, what do you count as the "outside"? The boundary between inside and outside can be the boundary between derivational suffixes and inflectional suffixes, so if those are not clearly distinguished then neither is the boundary. Mar 9, 2014 at 5:43

1 Answer 1


The original formulation of the 'aggluttinative type' applied to both derivation and inflection. The key element is monosemantic nature of the morphemes involved (but there are also many other criteria).

It seems to me that the criteria are best illustrated with functional rather than derivational morphemes. Which is why most of the examples given are inflectional. I don't have my books near me to confirm, but I think Skalicka (one of the early investigators) mostly considered inflection in his work on Hungarian.

See p. 54 here for more details ...

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